Image:A Nepali grandmother holds her daughter’s newborn baby at the UNICEF-supported Patan Hospital in Kathmandu. Photo: UNICEF/Kent Page
By Samantha Semoso – EMTV Online
Nearly 7,400 newborns die every day in South-East Asia, causing untold misery to mothers and families, yet two thirds can be saved with proven cost-effective measures, the United Nations health agency said a week ago.
They are calling on governments to act urgently against a scourge that kills 2.7 million newborns annually.
“Scaling up interventions with good quality care around the time of childbirth and during the first days after birth can substantially prevent complications and infections in newborns, which are the main causes of newborn deaths,” UN World Health Organisation (WHO) South-East Asia Regional Director, Poonam Khertrapal Sing, stressed in Delhi, as health partners signed a pledge to reduce such deaths.
The pledge calls for increasing the health workforce – doctors, nurses and specially midwives – which remains critically low in much of the region, below WHO’s target of 23 per 10,000 people, as well as mobilising sufficient funding and accessing unreached populations.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN Population Fund (UNFPA), World Bank, Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), led by WHO, pledged to jointly support the accelerated reduction in newborn deaths by ensuring equitable access to life-saving interventions for mothers and babies.